Pausing on the way home

20th April 2014 – 3.43 pm

I have a plan. I got podded last night, under frustrating circumstances, and will be starting the evening in high-sec. I plan to buy some cheap ammunition, throw a capacitor-sucking shield booster on to my new Loki strategic cruiser, and cruise high-sec anomalies popping rats in a therapeutic manner, hopefully finding the odd piece of good loot in the process.

That's the plan, and like most others of mine it falls over immediately. My glorious leader has been busy already, having scanned a not-insignificant w-space constellation to provide me with three routes home, two through a high-sec connection. I can't say this is a bad result, though. Going home seems like a better use of my time than crushing some puny high-sec rats. I set my auto-pilot destination and start hopping stargates.

Fin also tells me of the Zephyr exploration ship she caught and killed. It's good to see one of us doing well at the moment. But she punctuates the kill report by pointing out how the w-space constellation appears to be becoming more active. I'm sure I'll almost certainly probably be fine. At the very least, I can jump in through the high-sec wormhole, take a look at my directional scanner, and go back to Plan A if I get the jitters.

Twelve hops through high-sec. Nothing much happens. It gives Fin a chance to call out ships and pilots visible in the systems she's passing through, taking a ship out to high-sec to conduct some business. The exit she's using, the one I'm headed for, is only two hops from Amarr. That's pretty convenient. It also lets me act as scout for her return. I can do that! I'm already regaining my confidence in moving through w-space.

I get to the exit system. No oranges in local, but I don't think any corporations from our constellation have been tagged. I can do that whilst Fin is away. The wormhole is clear in high-sec, jumping to the class 2 system sees nothing on the other side of the wormhole, and d-scan shows me some towers to reconnoitre. Seven towers, in fact, along with a few ships to check for pilots.

A Scorpion battleship is piloted in one tower, a Buzzard covert operations boat and Dominix battleship are piloted in a second, and a Legion strategic cruiser is piloted in a third. None of the ships or pilots looks to be considering doing anything, though. Moving on, I head to the wormhole to C3b, but I've no time to do a full reconnoitre of the next system. Fin's on her way back.

I jump through a clear wormhole to see four towers on d-scan, plus a Loki, two Dominices, and a Helios and Buzzard cov-ops each. There are no wrecks and d-scan suggests our next connection is clear. I continue my run to the next system, our neighbouring class 3 system and so the last in the route home. The first aspect I notice is the palindromic J-number, which probably shouldn't be a priority, so I punch d-scan and see two towers and eleven ships. They're probably not up to much.

Not much, but something. Core scanning probes are whizzing around, but they are only core scanning probes and not combats, so they won't detect Fin's Bustard transport coming through. Fin enters the system, warps to our K162, and jumps home. I ask Fin to let me know if anyone ambushes her, as I loiter in C3a to see how many ships are piloted and what they are up to.

C3a is a compact system. Four planets, both towers around a planet with two moons. It's pretty simple. One tower is pretty much bare, just an empty shuttle inside the force field, the other holding the rest of the ships, all of them piloted. Well, I think it's the rest of the ships, as I don't count ten, but d-scan shows me none elsewhere. One appears abruptly, a shuttle warping to land on top of and decloak an Anathema cov-ops a few tens of kilometres outside of the tower's force field.

Probes clustered outside a tower

Decloaked by your own colleague!

I consider my options against the Anathema. It looks like he's aligned between a tower and distant planet, so I could probably bounce close to him. But how long will it take to pop the cov-ops, and how long will it take the tower to lock on to my ship? Fin reckons I have a ten-to-fifteen second window, but that will be for the guns. I remember hearing that the warp scramble batteries take longer.

Barely remembered hearsay is the best kind of indicator to rely on, so I turn my Loki around, bounce off the right planet, and warp back to, well, the wrong tower. It doesn't matter, as by the time I get to the right one the Anathema has wisely moved back in to its force field. That's my limited fun over, and Fin's too. She briefly considers heading back to high-sec for another run, but agrees that a convenient connection doesn't justify getting greedy. If anyone was watching we'll just lose, and this feels like the kind of constellation where someone is watching.

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